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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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New Frontiers and Solutions
The articles in this week’s reading assignment focused on wearable and augmented reality technologies. AR seems like a distant term that is only reserved for geeks and researchers, but many of us interact with augmented reality every day. The filters we use on social media platforms such as SnapChat and games such as Pokemon Go are all considered augmented reality. Popular companies such as Ikea and Wayfair to the NFL and Google Maps have used AR to market to consumers. And while wearable and AR technologies may add value to life, they come at a cost to the consumer.
I like how a few of the authors incorporated different philosophical paradigms in the articles including interpetist and critical research methods. In the article “Everyware: The Quantified Self and Wearable Fitness Technologies,” Gilmore (2016) uses “gamification” to study the effects of wearable technology such as Fitbit. I never realized how marketers use gamification to sell products. I have a Fitbit that sits at my computer desk collecting dust. This article explained why users like me were once interested in the product, but no longer find it valuable. When the technology was first introduced, it was marketed as a fun way to stay healthy and compete with friends. In 2010, The Harvard Business Review explained gamification as a useful tool for marketers stating that “a sense of progress is the most important motivating factor at work. Both as employees and consumers, we want to strive for something — a reward, a point, an outcome. Companies are learning that they can drive engagement by tapping into this desire for progress (https://medium.com/enkronos/why-you-should-start-using-augmented-reality-ar-and-gamification-1fdb1e1e57e6). My Fitbit kept me motivated for a while, but I quit using it because on days that I didn’t exercise, it made me feel guilty instead of motivated. I liked Gilmore’s article, but I wish he would have talked about the results of “everywear” technology. For example, did the technology actually help people get healthy and stay healthy? Did it result in lower doctor visits and insurance claims? I can only assume Fitbits and Jawbones will be a thing of the past with the rise of the Apple Watch.
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So, how can companies keep consumers interested in AR technology? In Gilmore’s article, he refers to Friedrich Kittler’s idea about whether “humans define or ‘are defined’ by machines” (p.2527). This peaked my interest a little because we seem to be a society that continues to allow technology to infiltrate our lives with the promise of more convenience. We scream “It isn’t fair for companies to track us,” yet we willingly sign “terms of agreement” without second thought. How are companies using augmented reality to market us? Why are some companies successful and others are not? I did a little research of my own to find out how AR is used in marketing. I found an article by Joachim Scholz and Andrew N. Smith (2016) titled, “Augmented Reality: Designing immersive Experiences That Maximize Consumer Engagement.” The authors state “Augmented reality initiatives should be consumer-experience driven rather than technology driven. Marketers’ efforts should be guided by consumer insights about unique, stimulating, and valuable experiences that are made possible by AR technologies. These insights should then shape where such an experience should occur, how it could ideally be triggered, and what content it should feature” (p.149). In other words, maybe marketers should take note of the interests of relevant social groups (RSG) before launching new products. Look at how they are framing messages around new emerging technology. They go on to state, “While it might be exciting to leverage the newest technology or platform, initiatives that prematurely commit to a particular approach risk failing to connect with consumers, appearing gimmicky in the process. AR experiences that fail to meet or exceed consumer expectations may also impair brand image, waste resources, and imperil future programs involving AR or other emerging marketing technologies” (p.149). I believe this is exactly what happened with emerging technologies such as Google Glass. I agree with some of the points Tony Liao (2018) made in his article “Mobile Versus Headworn Augmented Reality.” I believe Google Glass and other headworn AR technologies have failed for several reasons—appearance, design, privacy, and lack of understanding. I, for one, would not wear bulky, ugly glasses in public. Perhaps marketers can use the advice from the article by Joachim Scholz and Andrew N. Smith to understand if and when to launch a new AR technology. This can possibly lead to future research.
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Many of the readings this week were very insightful including the articles on facial recognition and Siri. Much of the research in these articles summed up ideas that we have been discussing over the course of this semester which have broadened my understanding on emerging media; however, I’m still not convinced on the idea of headworn augmented reality. As a funny side note, when I hear the words “headworn augmented reality,” I think of the closing scene in Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress (my favorite ride) where the young boy and his grandma are wearing virtual reality googles and the household appliances are responding to voice-activation. I’m sure people thought that idea was crazy up until now, but this once again proves that Walt Disney was a creative genius who was way ahead of his time.
Megan Archer (Blog #11)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Distraction
Social scientist, Hebert Simon, was once quoted as saying, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” (Doorley & Garcia, Reputation Management, p.163). Could a wealth of information also create an infinite distraction? In this week’s reading—Infinite Distraction—Dominic Pettman discusses his beliefs on how social media is creating endless distractions for online users that can result in negative consequences. While I liked how the book was short, the concepts and language Pettman used were much harder to understand and digest. In my thought blog, I will examine some of Pettman’s arguments and offer some suggestions for future research.
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 Pettman uses two terms—hypersynchronization and hypermodulation—to describe infinite online distraction. He states, “[Hypermodulation] flatters our senses of individuality, by pandering to our own personal preferences and allowing us to create our own ‘filter bubbles’” (p.44-45). But he goes to say, “[Hypersynchronization] always wins in the end, as we nevertheless allow the biased topography of the network to usher us toward the latest commercial ‘event,’ just as light is sucked inexorably toward a black hole” (p.45). He refers to hypersynchronization as “herd-like and corporate-government control of attention” (p.29). Pettman believes social media “herds” people to all the same stories and keeps users in their own bubble. I do not necessarily agree with this. While I do know that algorithms are at play in social media platforms such as Facebook, the internet is so vast that users can strategically choose to not be “herded” to the same stories as everyone else. It does, however, take some effort by the user.
There were several things in the book that I did not agree with. First, Pettman seemed to go overboard with the idea of believing that all Facebook stories are equal. He states, “Now, in a new click-based configuration which makes up the interface between ourselves and what’s going on, every story is equivalent, and thus none more meaningful than any other” (p.35). If this were the case, books like Affective Publics and platforms such as Twitter or “Black Twitter” would not be effective. But we know from previous readings that important topics do not get overlooked on social media because communities form around issues that are relevant. Pettman makes the case that stories of great importance such as the Ferguson protests should not get the same attention as stories of funny cats. Pettman writes, “[…] social media is calling upon you to abandon such a specific relationship to the passing of time and join the masses who all react to the same ‘events’ dictated by the same overarching algorithmic rhythm” (p.44). I believe that is the beauty of social media. People can find their own community and deem what they feel is important at the moment (subreddit communities). People may just use “rational ignorance” to sort through all the information that is coming into their newsfeed 24/7. The Business Dictionary defines rational ignorance as a “deliberate choice of a person not to acquire (not to pay attention to) a certain kind of information because of its cost in terms of time and effort that yields little or no benefit” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/rational-ignorance.html). Perhaps some people may have felt that the protests in Ferguson were not of importance to them, but videos of funny cats were beneficial to them which explains why these two topics could trend at the same time.
This whole idea of how the media plays with our emotions is interesting. Pettman referred to the Facebook study that was secretly conducted several years ago to find out if people’s emotions changed based on what showed up in their newsfeed. The results revealed that what people post on Facebook can directly affect the emotions of others. I think this would be an area I would like to explore more for future research.
In all, Pettman’s book helped me to see social media in a new light. I do not necessarily agree with everything he mentioned in his book, but I thought he used great analogies and examples to help readers understand the concepts he was making in the book. I also liked how he mentioned a few theories in his book. And while he briefly mentioned different research methods that could be used (p.15), he never explained any research methods he used when writing his book. And while his book was mainly focused on how social media distracts us, I think he missed an opportunity to speak a little more about the benefits it gives society. He more of less mentioned it in passing. And with second-screening and multi-tasking at an all-time high, I do not think society is really all that concerned about being distracted.
Megan Archer (Blog #10)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Emerging Media Communities
Last night on my drive home, I was listening to an old podcast on NPR called “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” This particular podcast featured a live interview with the founders of Reddit—Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman. At one point in the podcast, Steve made a profound statement. He said, “What we [he and Alexis] want Reddit to be is in many ways a reflection of humanity. And humanity isn’t perfect. But what you get on Reddit is an authentic representation of what is going on in the world. And we believe that is very, very powerful” (https://www.npr.org/2017/10/03/545635014/live-episode-reddit-alexis-ohanian-steve-huffman). But is Reddit a true reflection of humanity? In this week’s reading assignment—Participatory Culture, Community, and Play: Learning from Reddit—Author Adrienne Massanari explains the purpose of Reddit, how it is different from other social networking sites, the culture of Reddit, and different ways the platform is used by redditors. In order to understand the platform and gather research, Massanari spent from 2011-2014 engaging with other redditors and participating in the different subreddit communities. I will explain my observations on her findings in this week’s thought blog.
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When I first learned this book was one of my reading assignments, I decided to download the Reddit app on my phone so I can become familiar with it. However, as time went on, I never spent much time on it, so naturally I thought the whole platform was confusing and dumb. Wow, I was wrong! After listening to the podcast last night, I decided to give Reddit another chance. I literally spent hours observing the culture and conversations that occur on this platform. Some topics were comical, but others were dark, depressing, and down right sick! And while I had a chance to make my own observations about Reddit by actually creating a profile, Massanari gave an excellent, detailed description of Reddit in chapter 2. So, anyone who does not want to join the site can still gain a good understanding of it from Massanari’s own observations. She states, “Reddit is focused on enabling conversations about a given link or topic among members who are likely outside one another’s social networks” (p.27). In other words, most redditor’s interactions will be with complete strangers. Massanari quoted one redditor as explaining Reddit this way— “Reddit is like a little nation. It’s got its own over-arching culture, but there are individual states (subreddits) that have their own cultures as well, and the way those interact can be fascinating sometimes. Some are huge and have great influence, some are smaller, perhaps more secluded” (p.86). Massanari also observed that Reddit also does not advertise like other social media platforms which I thought was interesting.  I did a little research of my own to find out what attracted users to Reddit by analyzing the subreddit “r/AskReddit.” The comments ranged from anonymity, algorithms, and interacting with strangers instead of friends to up/down voting, more welcoming, subreddits, and less censorship. It also occurred to me that people can avoid context collapse on Reddit because they have the freedom to remain anonymous. I would be interested in doing future research on the topic of context collapse using Reddit.
Reddit, like other social media platforms, has had its share of problems. When I first googled the website on my MacBook, I was surprised to see it still had a 1990s look to it. I am not sure what’s the reasoning for it. I like how Massanari also explained how Reddit tries to enforce rules by issuing a set of guidelines called reddiquette. In essence, it is similar to terms of agreement, but particularly focuses on rules for “submitting, voting, and commenting/interacting with others” (p.74). I agree with Massanari’s view of this when she says this idea of enforcing reddiquette “further shifts responsibility for ‘policing’ objectionable, inappropriate, or even simply off-topic content onto the backs of community members and moderators” (p.74). You may recall the infamous 2017 President Trump/ CNN wrestling meme that conveyed messages of violence and hate toward the media. President Trump even shared the video on Twitter. It was later discovered that the original meme originated on Reddit. CNN was outraged by the video and found the real identity of HanA**holeSolo who published the offensive material. He later apologized, but this goes back to the idea of free speech. Should Reddit have done more to stop this user from publishing hateful content? What about the incident last week in New Zealand when a white supremist live-streamed his violent attack on Facebook? I believe something more has to be done to combat people who use technology for evil.
Overall, I thought Massanari did an excellent job of explaining how Reddit is a participatory culture inviting others to play and build community. Is Reddit perfect? No, it still has issues, but I think it is a unique platform that allows users from around the globe to really engage on topics that are funny, serious, and intellectual. It offers users a different experience from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. As for me, I think I will stick with Reddit a little longer. I have much more to learn.
Megan Archer (Blog # 9)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Multitasking and Second Screening
The articles in this week’s reading were very relatable because second screening has become second nature to many of us. In fact, Nielsen did a study on second screening last year and reported that, “71 percent [of people] said they use their [mobile] device to look up something related to […] TV content, while 41 percent said they text, email or message someone about the content” (https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/12/nielsen-the-second-screen-is-booming-as-45-often-or-always-use-devices-while-watching-tv/). But what does this say about us as a society? Have we come to accept that our attention will never fully be dedicated to one medium? I cannot remember the last time I sat down to watch TV without pulling out my phone. In this blog, I will reference the article on Black Twitter to discuss ideas I found interesting and suggest ideas for future studies.
Did you know African-Americans use Twitter more than any other race? Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2014 to analyze the demographics of Twitter users. They found that “22% of online blacks [were]Twitter users, compared with 16% of online whites, [and] younger African Americans in particular have especially high rates of Twitter use” (http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/06/african-americans-and-technology-use/). This is perhaps because African-Americans have built a community on Twitter where they are free to express their ideas without fear of judgement or discrimination. Many outside of the African-American community may not fully understand Black Twitter, but it is alive and well in different parts of the world. In 2013 and 2014, I traveled to Kenya to spend time at an orphanage, and I traveled to South Africa for vacation in 2018. During all three trips, I saw commonalities between myself (Black in America) and Blacks in Africa. From expressions used in dancing and singing to techniques used in cooking, these cultural bonds and experiences transcend distance. Africa felt like home.
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I thought about my time in Africa as I read the article by Apryl Williams and Vanessa Gonlin on Black Twitter. The authors referenced many concepts that are relatable to Black women. In fact, I stayed up till 1 AM yesterday looking up topics trending on Black Twitter. Many tweets convey cultural ideologies that are very common in the Black community. In their article, Williams and Gonlin (2017) state, “Users intentionally code language in tweets to signify Blackness” (p.995). I thought this was interesting because users found a new way to create community by using words that only those in the Black community would understand. For example, if I used terms such as “hot comb” and “stove” in a tweet on Black Twitter, many Black women would instantly know what I am referring to and probably grab their ear (#growingupblack)! I thought the authors summed it up perfectly by writing, “Black Twitter can be used to expand interpersonal networks and allow users to feel understood by and unified with a community” (p.988).  Using the popular television series “How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM)”, Williams and Gonlin (2017) demonstrated how the series was very relatable to many Blacks and shined a light on topics including “shared cultural history of Black womanhood, culture-specific nostalgia, and the intergenerational transfer of knowledge” (p.985).
I think it is vitally import for communities such as Black Twitter to exist and thrive in the society that we live in so people can freely express their ideas. When “Black users envision an audience that looks like them” online, they feel empowered to speak out because they expect to receive support (Williams and Gonlin, 2017, p.988). The idea of second screening and co-viewing helps build community. Hashtags also create conversations around topics. “Hashtags facilitate conversations beyond the immediate timeframe and allow viewers to communicate with other users that they may or may not follow” (Williams and Gonlin, 2017, p.991). I venture to believe many Black users were using co-hashtags when the series first aired on TV. I wish the authors would have included more information on co-hashtagging in the article. For example, did hashtags such as #BlackGirlMagic, #GrowingUpBlack, or #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl co-exist with on Black Twitter? This may be an idea for a future study.
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This past week, many people (including myself) were second screening during the R. Kelly interview with Gayle King and the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland. The conversations surrounding the interview and documentary were building support for or against the musicians. Hashtags such as #MuteRKelly, #LeavingNeverland, and #MuteOprah were rapidly being used. Television producers rely on second screening to gather information on the Black community; it helps ensure an accurate representation of Black culture in TV and movies. Politicians can tune into Black Twitter to see what topics are trending and gain a better understanding of the struggles facing the Black community. This is all possible because of second screening. This article demonstrated how second screening can create two-way communication and encourage dialogic engagement that builds support and community for African-Americans near and far.
Megan Archer (Blog #8)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Critical Perspectives on New Media Habits
I really enjoyed the articles in this week’s reading assignment. The theme of the articles focused on critical perspectives on new media habits which, in some aspect, is a continuation of themes from previous readings. I thought several of the articles gave interesting insights into new and different ways social media apps can be utilized. Some of the articles also left me with questions that I will discuss in this week’s thought blog.
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I learned so much from the article “The Walkthrough Method: An Approach to the Study of Apps” by Light et. al (2018). I think they made a brilliant point about studying human behavior when researching and testing apps. They noted that when analyzing an app, it requires “attention to its embedded sociocultural representations as much as its technological features or data outputs, which also have social and cultural influences” (p.885). Every week, at least one article ties the study of social science to emerging media in some way, shape, or form starting with dana boyd from week one. I was also surprised to learn that unlike many websites, commercial apps are not easily accessible for research; therefore, researchers must find creative ways to get around the closed system such as “auditing an app’s algorithms through experimental scenarios” (Light et al., 2018, p.885). I liked how the authors detailed the tedious process researchers go through when designing and testing an app. Most users have no idea of this process; they just expect the app to work when they download it. I wish the authors would have discussed the length of time it takes researchers to perform walkthroughs. I’m interested to know if this phase of app development takes months or years before launching. Also, I wish the authors would have discussed A/B testing or if they use focus groups to test apps before releasing them to the public. I’m sure they do, but there was no mention of it.
In the article, “#GirlsLikeUs: Trans Advocacy and Community Building Online,” Jackson et al. (2018) discussed how the trans community utilized Twitter to gain support from counterpublics. I was surprised to read how traditional media (magazines, documentaries, TV programs, music) was used to help promote advocacy, community, and support for trans people. Jackson et al. (2018) stated, “The mainstream visibility and promotional campaigns of some members of the counterpublic, Mock and Cox in particular, further facilitated the visible interrogation of mainstream narratives about gender identity and feminist and queer politics while supporting ingroup needs” (p.1884). In the past couple of few weeks in class, we have been discussing legacy media and legacy gatekeepers’ roles on social media, but in this article, they actually helped promote issues facing the trans community. This demonstrates that legacy media and influential voices still hold power, and many people still rely on traditional media to raise awareness on certain issues that warrant attention. I was confused as to why conservative groups would set their location to #GirlsLikeUs even though the majority of the community chose not to engage with them. Were they just there to troll? The article doesn’t say if they made derogatory comments, but only that the majority of the community ignored them—hence the drastic separation in the Gephi results.
Gatekeepers was also the topic of Haynes and Marshall ‘s (2018) article “Beats and Tweets: Social Media in the Careers of Independent Musicians.” The authors noted how “traditional gatekeepers—most notably the major record labels—has been significantly weakened by the disintermediating nature of these technologies, facilitating more direct social and financial relationships between artist and fan” (Haynes and Marshall, 2018, p.1977). Media platforms such as YouTube allow individual content producers to engage with fans and seek feedback at a much cheaper cost. YouTube, in some aspects, levels the playing field. However, Haynes and Marshall (2018) ended the article by stating, “Many musicians in our study thought that recognition from traditional music industry gatekeepers remained essential if one was going to be taken seriously” (p.1987). One interesting point the authors made was that these independent musicians struggle to generate offline success even though it appears they have a huge online following. This means musicians must find what it is that motivates fans to leave their house and attend a concert or go online and purchase their music. I’ll be honest, I don’t purchase many songs on I-tunes anymore. Pandora and Spotify have made it easier to listen to all kinds music for free. By the way, did you know that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube? Personally, I think he was in the right place at the right time. For most independent musicians, it does not happen that easily.
The articles touched on so many different topics this week, but I highlighted the ones that appealed to me the most. And while I didn’t have time to discuss the article on context collapse, I would like to note that having 12 Facebook accounts is just plain crazy! Who in the world wants to check 12 Facebook accounts while staying incognito. In the words of Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins—a viral YouTube sensation—Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!”
Megan Archer (Blog #7)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Emerging Media Psychology: Algorithms, Branding, Politics and Sentiment
Since the beginning of time, people were taught to conform and obey the rules. Women, in particular, were shamed for speaking out on certain issues that were taboo. I can’t help but wonder if this ideology contributed to Elizabeth Noelle- Neumann’s  spiral of silence theory. For instance, why do some sexual assault victims suffer in silence instead of reporting? And how did Donald Trump become the 45th President of the United States when all the polls pointed to Hillary Clinton? The answer is the spiral of silence theory which states that “individuals […] continuously monitor cues in their environment in order to learn which viewpoints are approved by society” (Neubaum and Kramer, 2017, p.503). In many cases, a person remains silent on certain issues because of fear that others may oppose him or her. When a sexual assault victim feels like no one will believe or support her, she doesn’t feel safe to speak out.
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If an employee works in a liberal environment, but supports President Trump, the fear of rejection will overpower any notion to speak out. We all have an innate desire to belong. We want to fit in with others. Yes, even those who have a high need for uniqueness want to fit in somewhere. It’s called group-identity theory—the need to belong to a particular group. I had never heard of the spiral of silence theory until the 2016 Presidential election when the news media suggested the “silent majority” gave Donald Trump the votes to win the election. More than anything, I’m particularly interested in why so many Americans—living in the free world—chose to remain silent.
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But is more at play than just the spiral of silence? Continuing from last week’s discussion, I believe cognitive dissonance plays an important role in this conversation. People choose to be selective in their media exposure to avoid feeling conflicted. Some only support Fox News and avoid all other liberal media while others avoid Fox News in support of CNN or MSNBC. These networks report information that supports the beliefs of their viewers creating media-audience homophily. I was surprised with the results of Gvirsman’s (2017) study—particularly that right-wing groups display higher levels of homophily. Why is this? Do right-wing groups have the mantra “Us Against the World?” Or maybe this whole idea stems back from the 1800’s when the North and South were pitted against each other in the Civil War? The south was known for sticking together. I can’t really say for sure because Gvirsman (2017) noted that her study relied on participants opting-in to take the survey. This usually results in a low turnout without much diversity.
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All the articles this week had great insight and broadened my view on issues I face every day. I tend to see myself as someone with a high need for uniqueness, but that came into question last Sunday night while watching J.Lo’s Motown Tribute on the Grammy Awards. Honestly, I thought she killed it. But then I looked on Twitter, and I saw people from my own race criticize her performance. Guys like Shannon Sharpe and D.L. Hughley felt an African-American woman should have been chosen to perform the Motown Tribute. I was a little conflicted after reading the comments and didn’t know how to feel about her performance. These negative comments at the end of J.Lo’s performance affected my evaluation of her. I support Waddell and Sundar’s (2017) conclusion that “negative social media comments elicit[...] lower levels of program enjoyment via perceptions of low bandwagon support [...]” (p.404).
Sometimes the spiral of silence has unexpected or unintended results like the 2016 Presidential election or the emergence of powerful movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter with the assistance of social media. It actually gives a voice to minorities including women and African-Americans. The more I study this topic, the more amazed I am at how much psychology and social science directly correlate with mass communications and emerging media. It’s actually quite astounding.
Megan Archer (Blog #6)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Social Networks and Social Capital
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The articles in this week’s readings were very interesting. How do rumors—particularly political rumors—spread so quickly on social media? Has fact-checking gone by the wayside? I recently read an article from the New York Times that made me laugh. It stated that people 65 and older are seven times more likely to share fake news on social media than those 29 and younger regardless of ideology, education, or political affiliation (https://nyti.ms/2RFCTxH . Honestly, this is one of the main reasons I spend less time on Facebook. It is so annoying! I am not sure if it is because older users lack the necessary skills to properly use the platform like we discussed in class a few weeks ago, or if it is a result of cognitive dissonance—a need to avoid psychological discomfort. Whatever the case may be, I will seek to explain a few important ideas from the readings and possible solutions in this blog.
Humans are innately attracted to negative news. In psychology, it is called “negativity bias.” In theory, most people would say they prefer more feel-good stories to dominate news cycles, but in reality, our brains cling to negative news. It is what we remember most. It is a battle between the heart and the mind. I think it is because we generally want to believe that people are good, so when a negative news headline appears in our twitter feed about another school shooting, it shocks us, and we have no choice but to read it, share it, or retweet it. Unfortunately, rumors always seem to surface around negative news.
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So, how do we stop rumors from spreading on social media? Certainly, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have vowed to implement methods to thwart the spread of false information, but what can the average user do? It begins with fact-checking. I believe the mainstream media also has to hold themselves accountable to fact-checking. I have recently seen how both conservative and liberal media outlets have struggled with this. Whether it is an unverified Fox News story on the mysterious death of DNC staffer, Seth Rich or a New York Times sports writer’s tweet of a half-truth photo from the New England Patriots team visit to the White House in 2017, in both cases, false information was released to millions of users without fact-checking. And once it was published online, the damage is done. The only solution is a quick, sincere apology and vow to spend a few minutes fact-checking next time. My fear is that examples like these strengthen one’s own beliefs about political parties. For those who are anti-Trump, the Fox News story strengthen their own ideas and displeasure for Republicans while the NYT story strengthen conservatives displeasure for those on the left who President Trump calls “fake news.” Again, it keeps us divided.
I struggle with who to believe on social media—elitist or non-elitist? Name recognition has definitely strengthened my trust in legacy media, but FB Live and Twitter Live have given non-elitist an advantage. I can now see events occur in real-time and make my own judgement. Legacy media journalists (traditional gatekeepers) now face competition because average users can produce original content. Personally, I have observed how legacy media tends to respond faster to influencers and celebrities than average users. Again, this reveals some level of superiority that still exist in legacy media minds. Groshek and Tandoc (2017) mention that “traditional news organizations and journalists are protecting their boundaries” (p.208). While social media affords non-legacy users an equal platform to post content, they must work harder to gain followers.
In closing, I liked how some of the authors paired social science and psychology to emerging media. For some, social media is a place for self-disclosure and community, but for others, it is a breeding ground for hateful and divisive speech. Different platforms can help revolutions and movements rise in power, but they can also assist in destroying friendships and marriages. Social media can be powerful, but it relies on each user to enact safe and responsible practices. Then, and only then, can it truly make the world a better place.
Megan Archer (Blog #5)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Affective Publics
It only takes one injustice to start a revolution. The mistreatment of one man in a public square to eradicate a regime. In the book Affective Publics, Papacharissi examines the role of Twitter and affect during political movements. I have always thought of social media as a tool to connect people; a place where people can network and share ideas, but it has the potential to be something much greater as demonstrated in this book.
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One aspect of the book that really caught my attention was the role Twitter plays in the online and offline community. In the case of the 2011 Egyptian political uprising, Twitter not only united a country oppressed by a dictatorship, but it gave citizens a free platform for personal storytelling, self-reflection, and community. I believe Twitter grew in popularity because users can sign up for free and are able to express their beliefs without fear of retribution. America is a rare nation where people are free to assemble in public squares and still receive government protection. Online, it is easy for people to show support by retweeting or using a hashtag, but showing that same support offline proves to be much harder. Think about how difficult the Civil Rights March to Washington must have been in pre-Internet days. Instead of Twitter and Facebook, bold men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X assembled people near and far to demand equal rights for all people. And to think, the spark that started this fire was a small-statured, fierce woman named Rosa Parks.
Sometimes it is hard to predict if the offline community will mirror the online community, but when affect is at play, latent publics are awakened and people are motivated to action. I experienced this firsthand yesterday for Boycott Bowl in New Orleans. I will be honest, I did not expect a huge turnout. However, 11,000 people checked-in for the actual concert and thousands assembled around New Orleans for second line parades. Did affect play a major role? You bet it did! Saints fans near and far were still upset at the “no call” during the NFC Championship game and quickly mobilized to channel their frustration. Although NFL remained silent on the issue for 10 days, people, like myself, immediately turned to Twitter and Facebook to start conversations. We no longer have to rely on the media to be our voice. We hold the power to be our own voice and tell our own story in our own way.
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I think in order for online and offline communities to mirror one another, the movement has to have a goal. Affect and feelings of belonging are not enough to sustain a movement. For example, the Occupy Wall Street movement quickly grew in numbers and demonstrations popped up all over the country, but soon fizzled out. I remember hearing about Occupy Wall Street several years ago, but did not take interest in the movement. On the other hand, movements such as Me Too and Black Lives Matter have grown in support year after year. And while these movements seem to be quiet at the moment, they can quickly mobilize in less than 24 hours. It only takes a spark—one more sexual abuse case uncovered, another case of police brutality on an innocent black man—to rekindle the fire.
This book sheds light on many aspects of Twitter that I had not previously understood. Affect coupled with a technological tool such as Twitter have the ability to politically revolutionize the world. Twitter circulates news faster and cheaper than traditional media and can bypass gatekeepers in nations where free speech is restricted. It also allows users considered non-elite to share opinions and views of events that may otherwise be mischaracterized by the media. While Twitter can be a voice for the voiceless—especially in the political realm, one must possess the necessary skills required to use that voice; otherwise, Twitter is rendered ineffective.
Megan Archer (Blog # 4)
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Emerging Media and Platforms (The Internet Trap)
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The reading this week gave me a different perspective of the Internet. I had no idea of the dark story behind the Internet. After reading the book, I am not sure what to think about the Internet. I have always viewed it as a technological tool that connects people, but I did not realize the Internet is really owned by a few big corporations (i.e. Facebook and Google). In this blog, I will discuss my thoughts about the Internet and possible solutions to enable smaller companies to have an equal opportunity to increase revenue and build an audience.
A few nights ago, I was reading a short article on my phone before going to sleep. The bottom of the article had a video link. While consciously knowing that this will lead me down a rabbit hole, I decided to click on it anyway. Before I knew it, I had wasted almost an hour watching endless YouTube videos. How did this happen? How can one video on Gisele Bündchen’s first date with Tom Brady take me to funny videos of the comedian Mr. Bean? When I think about it, it creeps me out. While I was sleeping, big data companies such as Google are taking notes on me and determining what I like and dislike so next time I get on YouTube, it can keep me there longer. It is called “stickiness” and honestly, Google probably knows more about me than I know about myself.
This week, I learned that the majority of digital advertising comes from Google and Facebook—more than 73%. While this does not surprise me, it does give me concern. How did two companies become so powerful in a short amount of time? Hindman said “Big Data” companies like Google dominate the Internet because it has the ability to invest in infrastructure, increase staff, and  A/B test which allows them to build more attractive websites, have faster load times, rank higher in search results, and sync to mobile apps. In my opinion, smaller companies do not stand a chance against Google, and I am part of the reason why. For example, I typically always use Google as a search engine because I trust it. I know that sounds funny because I just mentioned that Google knows all my information, but at the same time, I have more trust in Google than other search engines because it has been around for a long time and many people use it. I like Google because of convenience. It syncs my phone, GPS, email, documents, and storage drive seamlessly. It is like Walmart; it is a one-stop shop. If you think about it, Walmart attracts people of all ages because it has groceries, nail salons, eye doctors, hair salons, automotive shops, pharmacies, and fast food restaurants. Google, like Walmart, is able to mass-produce. It can generate content at an alarming rate; however, quality suffers. Perhaps, this is why local media sites cannot compete. While they may have better content, they lack the staff to keep up with Google. But does the average citizen really care? People like Matthew Hindman cared enough about it to write “The Internet Trap.” And after reading his book, I care too, but I do not feel empowered enough to do anything about it. I feel constrained from taking action because I do not believe the U.S. Government will do anything. Lobbyist are more concerned about power and money than American citizens or small businesses. In the words of former Louisiana Governor, Huey P. Long, the government is not for the “little man.”
There is hope. Smaller companies should seek audience growth not raw traffic. Instead of trying to overtake big companies such as Google or Amazon, small and medium-size online companies should continue to focus on quality. Unfortunately, it may not be without the help of Google and Facebook. I thought Hindman missed an opportunity to discuss theory in his book, but he did a great job of explaining the Internet trap through numerous examples.
-Megan Archer
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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Digital Inequalities
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The readings this week focused on digital divides and digital inequalities. Many of the articles explored reasons why digital inequality still exists and what steps are being taken to lessen the divide. I particularly enjoyed Bianca Reisdorf’s article “Internet (non-) Use Types and Motivational Access: Implications for Digital Inequalities Research” and Hoffman et al.’s article “Content Creation on the Internet: A Social Cognitive Perspective on the Participation Divide”. I will discuss these two articles in this week’s blog.
I was in sixth grade when I was first introduced to the Internet. I remember my parents had to get a second phone line installed specifically for dial-up Internet. That was 21 years ago, and so much has changed since then. The Internet has infiltrated every part of society. It is first thing I look at when I wake up in the morning, and it is the last thing I see before I go to sleep. I have an addiction to the Intenet or as Lee, Ho, and Lhin like to call it—problematic use. In 2019, one would assumed everyone uses the Internet or has a basic understanding of it, but these articles reveal that is not the case.
Why does the digital divide still exist after more than two decades of this new media? Perhaps it is because socioeconomic inequalities such as race, gender, and social status continue to keep people in a place which excludes them from Internet affordability. Hoffmann et al. use the social cognitive theory to explore online participation. What they found was that self-efficacy and online privacy concerns are two cognitive factors affecting online participation. I had to laugh when I read that online privacy concern was a major factor because I have a relative who fits into this category. I did a little empirical research of my own and decided to survey him with a few questions. He is an African-American male, middle class, and college educated. His main reason for not using the Internet was trust. I have never read the book “1984” by George Orwell, but most people know the book is based on the theme “Big Brother Is Watching You”. This particular family member believes the government sees everything and knows our every move. For this reason alone, he chooses to neither bank online nor shop online. And yes, he still uses a flip phone!
The bigger concern for researchers is trying to find ways to solve this problem before the divide grows larger. The Situational Theory of Publics (STOP) by James E. Grunig can help researchers identify low and non-users and find out how they communicate. In PR, these users would be considered an inactive public. This theory would also identify any constraint recognitions that are discouraging them from becoming Internet users. I would also recommend using research methods such as focus groups and interviews to understand any attitudes or motivations that exist. danah boyd said it this way when conducting interviews with teenagers, “My goal is to get at their personal logic in order to understand why what they are doing makes sense to them” (Making Sense of Teen Life: Strategies for Capturing Ethnographic Data in a Networked Era).
Another suggestion I would make is to start teaching basic Internet skills in the classroom at an early age. The earlier a child is introduced to a new skill, the quicker he or she can master it. Education is the key to overcoming poverty and other socioeconomic inequalities. Internet classes should also be offered at local libraries so older adults have the opportunity to learn how to use the Internet. Without basic Internet skills, certain people are excluded from applying for jobs because more and more companies no longer accept paper resumes or job applications. The same goes for high school students in low income areas trying to apply for college scholarships.
Until Internet is accessible to all, attitudes and digital injustices will remain. In order to lessen the digital divide, researchers must show low Internet users and non-Internet users how the Internet can positively affect their lives. Could the “diffusion of innovations” theory be used to resolve digital inequality? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, research needs to continue in this area until Internet affordability is given to all.
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archermegan279 · 3 years ago
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What is Emerging/Digital/Social/Mobile/New Media?
Advancements in technology are increasing at a rapid pace. The invention of the Internet has revolutionized the way humans interact and behave. With the emergence of Web 2.0, people now have different avenues to communicate. Researchers coined the term “mass medium” to describe communication platforms that have the capacity to reach large numbers of people. One example of this would be the invention of the television. But can the same be said of the Internet? I believe so. In today’s society, people can use the Internet to read newspapers, make phone calls, listen to the radio, and watch TV. The Internet affords users the ability to communicate with anyone in the world 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Researchers use the term “new media” to describe this new age of technology we are living in, but what happens if and when a new communicative technology emerges? Will today’s media still be called “new media” even though something newer has emerged? Therefore, I believe researchers should use one generic term to describe this type of media. I like the word “digital media” as a better word choice than new media.
I believe technology and society go hand in hand. As oil is to America’s existence, so is technology to society. One cannot survive without the other. The study of humans and technology will always require research because the two are constantly changing and evolving. This is one reason I believe research in technology must always include changes occurring in society. The study of emerging media starts with studying people. I thought Borah (2017) made a great point in her article when she said, “Incorporating theories from disciplines such as sociology will take this research a step further […] and theories in psychology would aid scholars to delve deeper into understanding online users” (p.631). Research needs to include the “why” behind emerging media not just the effects of it. The Uses and Gratification Theory is vital to the study of emerging media because it helps to explain why people use certain types of media and how they are using them to meet their needs.  For example, why are teenagers drifting away from Facebook and flocking toward Instagram and Snapchat? How are they using these new platforms? What specific needs are being met? We have numerous amounts of research on the effects of teenagers and problematic Internet use, but we are lacking in research to explain the “why” behind it. Research without theory is meaningless because theory helps prove or disprove research. Also, how do researchers decide what types of methods will be used to test their theories? For example, Borah (2017) stated that mobile technology and health used surveys while video games used experiments (p.630). I think the article should have gone a little further to explain how the process works. I do not know for sure, but perhaps it starts with knowing and understanding the target audience.
In the article, “Making Sense of Teen Life,” Danah Boyd meticulously articulated the steps she took to capture ethnographic data of teenagers. As she was recounting her interviews, I noticed she used some of the same techniques PR practitioners use in strategic communications and public relations. Since I’m studying strategic communication, I found this particularly interesting. First, PR practitioners must understand their target audience. Boyd wrote, “Depending on what is appropriate in a particular community, I may send these packets via email, through the postal mail, or ask the local informant to hand the packet physically to the teen or their guardian.”  She researched the best method of communication depending on the situation. The same is true for PR practitioners. They must know when and how to target specific people or groups of people. Boyd also sought to understand the teens before being understood. “My goal is to get at their personal logic in order to understand why what they are doing makes sense to them.” When communicating with different groups of people, PR practitioners and theorists must seek to understand why people make certain decisions before simply analyzing the results. Results should reflect solid theory behind them. Other similarities I observed were her awareness of personal bias, need for diversity, and knowing the current climate of the culture.
I believe the field of strategic communication and emerging media go hand-in-hand with each other. They both fall under the umbrella of mass communication and should seek to share research and results with each other to advance the field communication studies.
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